We discovered the existence of another entity that lives in the fields and forests of Yucatan. Francisco, our shaman friend and guide, referred to it as Ak na’am. It is a destructive energy that is quite dangerous. It appears large when you see it from far away, but when you get closer, you discover it is only the size of a squirrel. However, . . . it can lure you to do things that will harm you and it is able to shape-shift.
Just the other day we were out in the jungle with our friend and guide, Francisco. As we walked down the narrow, red earth trail, trying to avoid the stinging bushes that occasionally slapped our shins, Francisco shared a tale with us about his cousin who died and an entity we had never heard of before. An ak na’am.
The story goes like this:
One day, when Francisco was a young man, his cousin whom he was very close to, asked him to go out hunting. Many signs appeared that day saying that it was not a good day to hunt, but Francisco’s cousin insisted on going. He was lured out into the fields by an ak na’am and became completely unreasonable even though all the signs were saying it was definitely not a good day to go hunt. Francisco almost went with him, but at the last minute, decided not to go. However, another one of his good friends did go.
The two boys left and went out hunting.
A while after they left, Francisco was working in the milpa and he heard his cousin calling him. “Come on, let’s go!”
The voice came from just a little way out in the field and Francisco went to answer his cousin, thinking he had come back and was still trying to get Francisco to join the boys in the hunt. But when Francisco went to answer him, no one was there.
Three times his cousin called him, but each time, no one was there.
Francisco went home and told his father what happened. To his astonishment, his father replied, “Didn’t you know, your cousin is dead? He was chasing a deer through the fields and came out in the nearby town of Cuncunul and into the road where he and his friend were both hit by a car.”
Francisco’s friend was in bad shape, but later recovered. However, his poor cousin died.
Francisco went on to explain to us that it was a bad energy called an ak na’am that lured the boys out to the hunt. He told us that an ak na’am appears large when you see it from a distance, but the closer you get to it, the smaller it appears until it assumes its real form, which is as small as a squirrel. Perhaps it appeared in the form of a deer to the two boys. At this point, we don’t know. Did the ak na’am lure them to the hunt which led them to a real deer which they chased into the road? Or did the ak na’am appear in the form of a deer and lure them into the road where they were hit by a car? I suppose the end is the same. But still we are trying to better understand this entity that is new to us.
Francisco also explained that it was a “guardian” called Kuluk Chac that called him while he was in the milpa and sounded like his cousin. We asked twice if it was the spirit of his cousin calling to him in the moment of his death, but twice Francisco explained that it was not a ghost or the spirit of his cousin. It was a guardian.
We still have so much to learn.
I guess this means we will go again to see our friend and do some more traipsing through the jungles with stinging bushes slapping our legs.
It’s a small price to pay for the stories of a people.